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A Lesson In Driving Sales Success Throughout Your Organization

by Doug Davidoff | Sep 11, 2013 6:02:00 AM
teacher-lesson-planFor years I would have to brace myself when attending conferences or hearing companies talk about their approach to sales.  As a recovering “old school” salesperson myself, I just couldn’t stand hearing traditional, solution sales approaches being pawned onto unknowing executives, further confusing them with the very myths that were thrusting them into the very commoditization trap they were working so hard to avoid.

I’ve been increasingly excited as I’ve been to several events and conferences recently, and continue to see more advisors and companies share the insights and approaches I’ve spent the last 20 years professing.  I was very excited when I came across an insightful blog postfrom Software Advice into how HubSpot, the fast growing inbound organization, approaches the sales process. It’s no surprise that HubSpot puts content at the center of their sales strategy.  There are three key components to HubSpot’s sales success:

  • Hiring methodology
  • Sales rep expectations
  • Maniacal accountability

I encourage you to read the post as it’s quite informative and valuable for anyone looking to increase the predictability and effectiveness of your sales efforts going forward.  In this post I’ll share my insights into these three areas.

Hiring Methodology

One of the most common mistakes made when hiring salespeople is the failure to clearly lay out the talents and criteria that will be used before searching for or interviewing salespeople.  This results in a significant bias that leads you to overestimate a salesperson’s ability to produce results based upon how well they performed in the interview. HubSpot is very clear in the raw talents they are searching for.  Mark Roberge, SVP, Sales & Services, looks for:

  • Coachability
  • Intelligence
  • Prior success
  • Curiosity
  • Work ethic

These five criteria are in close alignment with my research and experience into the attributes that are most critical to professional sale success.  Whether you use Mark’s list, mine or create your own, if you’re adding to your sales team develop a clear set of criteria you use to assess and judge them before you begin the process.

Sales Rep Expectations

This is probably my favorite part of the post.  HubSpot believes it is their job to keep their salespeople busy with qualified, cultivated leads.  They invest significant time and effort in building the process that allows them to do that.  HubSpot gets that the only way a business can predictably grow is when sales and marketing work together in an integrated, aligned and mutually accountable process.  They call it Smarketing, and from my personal conversations with Roberge and Mike Volpe, HubSpot’s CMO, it’s easy to see how well each group contributes to the other’s success.

Time and again I see small and mid-market companies kill their sales efforts before they even start.  They hire salespeople and ask them to find prospects, engage them, qualify them, diagnose their needs, present solutions and CLOSE CLOSE CLOSE!

As I’ve shared before, each of these “jobs” requires different mindsets, talents and focus.  When you combine roles you diminish the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales effort.  HubSpot gets it; they know that a salesperson’s job is to (for lack of a better word) sell.  Marketing’s job is to create and cultivate leads.  When the two are locked-in and working together profitable, predictable growth happens.  It’s actually quite simple (not easy) and it’s critical that you grasp this to create the type of growth you are looking for.

Maniacal Accountability

HubSpot tracks everything.  

Further they do a particularly good job focusing on the numbers that matter.  If you’re on the sales team at HubSpot, you (and everyone else) know if you’re successful or struggling.  They understand their sales cycle, they know where the inflection points are and they know how to identify a problem before it impacts sales results. Further they’re tremendously disciplined in sticking to those measurements.  They use the intranet and CRM systems to clearly communicate progress (or lack thereof) to all parties.

What’s great about this approach is that they allow the metrics to take care of most management issues.  This allows sales managers and executives to serve more as coaches rather than overseers and enforcers.  There are no suprises and no room for confusion as to the job that is being done.

While HubSpot has taken this approach to a science, their core philosophy can be implemented by any organization that is committed to making it happen.  Companies of all shapes and sizes can learn a lot by this approach – and it’s exciting to me personally that this model is increasingly becoming the prime one to be followed.